On Sept. 4, the finalists for this year’s Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards were announced and WashingtonExec is bringing you its annual series with the nominees.
The winners will be unveiled on Nov. 13 at The Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Services Council. With more than 1,000 business and public sector leaders attending the event, our series will keep you up-to-date about all the finalists for this year — who they are, what they do and why they are worthy of winning.
Our next interview is with Engility Corp. President and CEO Anthony (Tony) Smeraglinolo, who is nominated for “Executive of the Year” in the greater than $300 million category.
WashingtonExec: What would you say are the top one or two leadership qualities necessary to be a great leader?
Anthony Smeraglinolo: Good leaders lead through core values, which really define the culture of a company. After Engility spun off in 2012, our leadership team established four core values that have helped us create “One Engility.” Good leaders also do all they can to make those around them successful. They also make and meet commitments. As a leader, it is my responsibility to clearly communicate my vision and the delegate responsibility, and then hold myself and my colleagues accountable.
Be passionate about what you are doing because if it’s a job or a hobby, with passion you will be good at what you do and you will enjoy it more. Finally, listen to everyone up and down the organization chart. Good ideas don’t just come from the top.
WashingtonExec: If we were to speak directly to your leadership team, what would they say is your management style?
Anthony Smeraglinolo: We work very hard, and we have a lot of fun, even in the tough business environment we have been in virtually since we started Engility. We have a collaborative environment and a sense of humor is a requirement.
WashingtonExec: How would your team describe your leadership qualities?
Anthony Smeraglinolo: I think they would say that I love my job and share that enthusiasm with everyone I work with. I believe collaboration provides a good path to success when you are surrounded by great people, and I am. I understand hard choices must be made, and I make them. To avoid them does not help your team or your company. I invite everyone in our company to communicate with me, and I listen to them. I’ve based many decisions on feedback I have received from my fellow Engility colleagues, most recently my decision to reinstate a company match to our 401(k).
WashingtonExec: What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
Anthony Smeraglinolo: I think the inflection point for me came when I was given the opportunity to lead a multi-year capture for a $2 billion classified program with the federal government. We won, and I have always been grateful to those who trusted in me and gave me that chance.
WashingtonExec: What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in the government contracting industry?
Anthony Smeraglinolo: Make knowing your customer your first priority. If you don’t take care of your customer(s), somebody else will. Hold yourself and those you work with accountable. Work hard, but have fun.
WashingtonExec: What was your first job?
Anthony Smeraglinolo: I cut grass when I was a kid. I mowed a lot of lawns and made decent spending money doing it, but I will tell you, I don’t own a lawnmower today!
WashingtonExec: Overall, how did that experience shape your career?
Anthony Smeraglinolo: Working for yourself, even as a kid, teaches you valuable lessons. Hard work pays off. Setting goals and meeting them is important. Mowing lawns requires focus and concentration, and I learned very quickly that I could do more and do a better job if I really focused on the job I was doing.
WashingtonExec: What three pieces of advice would you give your kids?
Anthony Smeraglinolo: I have two wonderful sons, and my advice to them reflects some of what I have said here. Make and meet commitments. Be passionate about what you are doing because if it’s a job or a hobby, with passion you will be good at what you do and you will enjoy it more. Finally, listen to everyone up and down the organization chart. Good ideas don’t just come from the top.
WashingtonExec: How has your organization changed over the past year and what makes you optimistic about winning GovCon Awards in your category this year?
Anthony Smeraglinolo: We took a major step in growing our business this year with the acquisition of Dynamics Research Corporation (DRC). Our business strategy continues to evolve, but in the last 12 months, we have determined that in the government services market space, there are too many companies chasing too few opportunities. As a company, you will either be a consolidator or you will be consolidated. We are going to be a consolidator, and we are very proud of our DRC transaction.
In terms of any optimism I might have about this award, I will say that it is great to be in the company of the other executive nominees. There are some great people under consideration, and I wish each of them good luck.